• FAQ’s about mammogram and breast biopsy

  • 1. Does mammogram cause cancer?

      The risk of harm from mammogram is miniscule compared to the huge benefits of early detection. The radiation dose from a mammogram is very low – Equivalent to the amount the average person receives from naturally occurring sources over 3 months.
  • 2. Are mammograms are painful?

      Mammograms are uncomfortable. Scheduling the mammogram post period lessens the discomfort and mammopads are now available to decrease the discomfort.
  • 3. Does mammogram prevent cancer?

      Mammograms does not prevent cancer. It only detects it early, thereby reducing deaths among breast cancer by 16 %. Since mammographically detected cancers are small, breast preservation may be feasible and difficult treatments like chemotherapy may be avoided.
  • 4.Should I get regular mammogram ?

      It is important to have regular repeat mammograms and compare it with previous ones to see if there is a change or a new development.
  • 5.How often should I have a mammogram?

      Start having regular mammograms from age 40 years onwards atleast once every 2 years.
  • 6.Can I have breast ultrasound instead of mammogram?

      No. Ultrasound is not the best screening tool for breast cancer. Breast ultrasound is a very useful diagnostic modality but for screening, mammogram is the gold standard to detect breast cancer early.
  • 7.What is the difference between FNAC and core biopsy?

      FNAC is called fine needle aspiration cytology. In this test, a little fluid is drawn out from the lump with a fine needle and spread on a slide and this is seen under the microscope for the presence of cancer cells.
      This test is quick and easy to do, but is often associated with difficulties like not having enough sample to read, and may not always be accurate.
      Core biopsy is done under local anesthesia usually under image guidance. The tissue obtained is processed in the lab and the results take a few days to come. There are many advantages with a core needle test. The results of a core biopsy are more accurate and provide other details that might assist with treatment planning.
      The technique of doing the core biopsy is important. Image guidance with ultrasound or stereotaxy ensures that the needle is sampling the tissue from the lump and not nearby tissue.
  • 8.Will a biopsy aggravate and make the cancer spread?

      Needle biopsy is essential for diagnosis. A diagnosis is essential before surgery to plan the surgery appropriately.
      Many patients and doctors believe that the breast lump should be removed for diagnosis. People give various explanations like
      1. The lump has to be removed anyway. So let’s remove it.
      2. The needle biopsy is expensive and the patient cannot afford it.
      3. Needle biopsy will accentuate spread of disease.
      Unplanned removal of the breast lump, which then proves to be a cancer after removal, results in loss of vital information regarding margins, and the completeness of removal. A second surgery becomes essential. In such a situation, breast preserving operations become difficult and we end up removing the whole breast.
      • With respect to cost, it is comparably less expensive to do a needle biopsy than doing a surgical excision for diagnosis.
      • A needle biopsy does not require general anesthesia and hospitalization.
      • The disease does not get aggravated or spread because of the needle core biopsy.
      • If the needle biopsy proves that the lump is not a cancer , many of these lumps do not require surgery at all, thereby avoiding a surgery and an unnecessary permanent scar in the breast.
  • 9.Why can’t we remove the lump and then send it for a biopsy?

      Needle biopsy is essential for diagnosis. A diagnosis is essential before surgery to plan the surgery appropriately.
      Many patients and doctors believe that the breast lump should be removed for diagnosis. People give various explanations like
      1. The lump has to be removed anyway. So lets remove it.
      2. The needle biopsy is expensive and the patient cannot afford it.
      3. Needle biopsy will accentuate spread of disease .
      Unplanned removal of the breast lump , which then proves to a be a cancer after removal, results in loss of vital information regarding margins, and the completeness of removal. A second surgery becomes essential. In such a situation, breast preserving operations become difficult and we end up removing the whole breast.
      • With respect to cost it is comparably less expensive to do a needle biopsy than doing a surgical excision for diagnosis.
      • A needle biopsy does not require general anesthesia and hospitalization.
      • The disease does not get aggravated or spread because of the needle core biopsy.
      • If the needle biopsy proves that the lump is not a cancer , many of these lumps do not require surgery at all, thereby avoiding a surgery and an unnecessary permanent scar in the breast.

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